Minors who are caught drinking and driving wouldn't get a second chance under a bill senators approved Thursday - if the kids have one drop of alcohol in their bloodstream, they lose their driver's license for three months.
If they are caught drinking and driving again, those under the legal drinking age of 21 will lose their licenses for a year.Those under 16 - the legal driving age - who are caught driving without a license and drinking will have their licenses suspended until they're 17.
"It's a tough law," says Senate sponsor Lane Beattie, R-Bountiful. "We're sending a clear message: If you drink you'd better not drive."
Utah already has a tough driving-under-the-influence law for adults. Beattie's bill would mean anyone under the legal drinking age of 21 couldn't have any alcohol in his bloodstream. If a minor took a swig of Nyquil or any other cold medicine that contains alcohol and was tested by an arresting police officer after a traffic violation, he'd show positive and lose his license, Beattie said.
Beattie said such a "not a drop of alcohol" standard has proven very effective in Oregon, Maine and North Carolina. "They've seen accident rates involving youth and alcohol drop by 60 percent," he said.
- The cold, clinical nature of Utah courtrooms is a hindrance to the prosecution of child sexual-abuse cases, often victimizing the child a second time.
But the House Thursday voted 64-0 to spend $300,000 on a pilot program to build "children's justice centers" - a homelike environment where children can testify and their recorded testimony be admissible in court proceedings.
SB44 now goes to the governor for his signature.